Springfield/Greene County Parks receives national accreditation

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An aerial view shows the Cooper Tennis Complex's combination of outdoor and indoor recreational courts, with the stadium court as the centerpiece. The Springfield Lasters will open their 2016 season Sunday, July 31.

An aerial view shows the Cooper Tennis Complex’s combination of outdoor and indoor recreational courts, with the stadium court as the centerpiece. The Springfield Lasters will open their 2016 season Sunday, July 31.

The Springfield-Greene County Park Board has received full accreditation from the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA) at the National Recreation and Park Association annual conference in St Louis. Accreditation was made official in a hearing Tues., Oct. 4, and it was announced in a ceremony Thurs., Oct. 6.

Springfield-Greene County Parks is now among only 155 CAPRA-accredited parks and recreation agencies in the U.S., including 14 newly accredited this week. Less than two percent of parks and recreation agencies in the country are accredited. There are three other accredited agencies in Missouri: Chesterfield, Kansas City and Lee’s Summit.

The Park Board spent more than two years in the accreditation process, including extensive documentation of compliance with 151 national standards as well as a thorough site visit by CAPRA representatives in June. This is the first time the Park Board has achieved this accreditation, which will now be renewed every five years.

The CAPRA accreditation team noted the Park Board’s 103-year history, its 2000 NRPA Gold Medal Award, its diverse and varied system, its leadership in sports tourism, its Community Olympic Development Programs, and above all, its community involvement and numerous partnerships as elements that stand out among peer agencies.

Parks Director Bob Belote and Park Board Chair Sarah McCallister accepted a certificate and crystal trophy Thursday, accompanied by project coordinator Dr. Peggy Riggs and Assistant Parks Director Jim Fisher, who headed up accreditation process, and several Parks staff members in St Louis attending the NRPA conference.

McCallister said accreditation confirms the Park Board is one of the top agencies in the country.

“Accreditation would not happen unless everyone at the Park Board is doing their job to the best of their ability,” said McCallister. “It means we have met 151 national standards measuring the quality of our programs and services. This is a wonderful honor, well deserved by all the people who made it happen, including the Park Board’s wide network of community supporters.”

A celebration is planned in Springfield at a later date.

For more information on CAPRA, visit nrpa.org/CAPRA/.

George Freeman is a veteran journalist and photographer. An award-winning writer, editor and columnist in Springfield, Mo., with more than 50 years experience. His preference is for positive and uplifting stories about people, places, traditions and trends that make the Ozarks one of the most livable regions anywhere. A member of the Garden Writers Association of America, he is a past-president of the Society of Professional Journalists of Southwest Missouri, the Kansas and Ohio AP societies; a board member of Friends of the Garden and a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield. In 1976, he traveled to India as a member of a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange Team.

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